Recently, a father was shamed for showering naked with his six-year-old daughter after swimming at their local pool. This has again caused parents worldwide to debate whether or not nudity around their children is appropriate.
Father Shamed for Showering Naked With His 6-Year-Old Daughter
After a fun afternoon of swimming at their local pool, it was time for the father and his daughter to hit the changerooms. Being only six, the father knew his little girl wasn’t ready to go into the women’s change room alone, so he brought her into the men’s room with him. (1)
As is customary, they needed to shower to rinse off the chlorine. There was no one else in the changeroom at the time, so the dad thought it would be okay for them to take an actual shower. While he was helping his daughter wash her hair, a man in his 50s entered the changeroom. He gave the father-daughter pair a disgusted look before saying:
“Not really the right place for your daughter, is it? This is the male change room, not the female. She shouldn’t be showering like that in here.” (1)
Shocked by the comments, he finished rinsing his daughter’s hair as quickly as possible, packed up, and left. He explained the situation to his wife, asking her if she thought that showering with their daughter like that in the public change room was inappropriate. (1)
“Not only was I infuriated that this man has made this remark to a father caring for his daughter, but infuriated that now my husband was insecure in his own parenting abilities and the decision he made,” his wife said. “How is a father helping his six-year-old daughter shower in a changeroom after a swim wrong?” (1)
She explained that it was the normal and practical thing to do and that showering naked in this instance is ok. She would have understood if their daughter was older, but a six-year-old girl is far too young to be sent to the women’s room unaccompanied. (1)
Showering Naked Aside, is Nudity in Front of Your Kids Wrong?
Outside of this scenario, many parents struggle to determine what is and isn’t appropriate in front of their children. How long is it okay for your kids to be naked in front of you and vice versa? Is it ever okay for you to be naked in front of your kids?
According to experts, the answer is with you and your children. As long as both parties are comfortable with it, then it is okay. As soon as one of both of you says or shows signs of discomfort, that’s the signal to make a change.
“Nudity between parents and children is fine as long as both are fully comfortable,” says parent coach and Ph.D. Dawn Huebner. “The goal with children is to foster delight and confidence in their bodies while gradually, over time, teaching norms related to privacy and consent.” (2)
The Pros To Parental Nudity
There are many benefits to being okay with nudity in front of your children.
First of all, there’s the convenience factor. When your children are little, they need constant supervision. If you are the only one home with them and need to get changed or take a shower, doing these activities in front of your kids means that you can still keep an eye on them.
Something else that many parents who are pro-nudity say is that it helps them teach body positivity to their kids.
Blogger Rita Templeton wrote about this point.
“Before they are exposed to boobs that are as round and firm as cantaloupes and pictures of taut, airbrushed, dimple-less butts, I’m exposing them to a different kind of female body. Mine.” (3)
Mom of two Haley shares a similar sentiment.
“Two babies later, my body is not what my daughter sees in magazines and billboards. I think it’s important that she grows up seeing what normal actually is. Equally important, I want her to grow up seeing her mom being OK with what normal is.” (2)
A single mom from North Carolina also told Healthline the same thing about her boys. She wants to teach them about real bodies and how everyone is different and use these moments to teach them about knocking and privacy. (2)
Separation of Nudity and Sexualization
In most of today’s societies, nudity has been highly sexualized, in particular the female body. Heubner explains that casual nudity in the home can actually help to separate the body from sexuality. It can provide a platform to talk and teach about human anatomy and function. (2)
“Casual nudity in front of small children helps them learn to be accepting of bodies — to see that bodies are functional, strong, and normal, regardless of shape or size. As long as nudity is separated from sexuality, there is no disadvantage to a parent being naked around a young child.” (2)
This allows children to feel more comfortable asking questions about certain body parts and feeling okay when their bodies start changing down the road. (2)
Cons to Parental Nudity
Of course, there are a few downsides to parental nudity.
Awkward Comments, Questions, and Stares
Your kids, especially when they are little, will ask questions about what they see on your body. No matter what they say, it is important that you maintain your composure and never make them feel bad about what they asked.
Instead, answer the question calmly, truthfully, and to the best of your ability. They will listen, take in that information, and move on.
Kelly Wallace, mom of two, says she uses these as teaching moments.
“when they ask hilarious questions such as “Mom, why do your boobs hang?,” I can’t help but laugh and use the opportunity as a chance to tell them my body has changed over time and theirs will, too.” she writes. (3)
Particularly with children of the opposite sex, sometimes boundaries can get blurred. Some parents are okay with being naked in front of their same-sex children but not the opposite, particularly for dads and daughters.
“I think it’s important for her [her daughter] to learn ASAP that there is never a reason for an adult man to not have clothes on around her,” says mom Haley. (2)
Child Psychologist Susan Bartell says that you shouldn’t have any issues as long as you set clear boundaries early on. She says to remember that children don’t understand nuance, so you must be explicit that it is never okay for a child (boy or girl) to see a grown man naked. (2)
Consent is Key
Whether you’re showering naked or getting changed, nudity in front of your children is all about comfort and consent. If your child says, they’re uncomfortable or shows signs of discomfort, such as covering up, looking away or staring at your private parts, or attempting to touch your private parts are all signs that perhaps it’s time to change the rules of the home.
“I think your kids let you know when it’s time to stop being naked in front of them – usually about the time they decide they don’t want to be naked in front of you,” says mom of two Nancy Friedman. (3)
If you are still comfortable, you can give your child the option by being explicit that you are about to change or get in the shower.
“when it is time for me to undress, I tell whichever of my kids is in my room talking to me, that I plan to do so and they have the option to leave.” says Rhonda Woods, mom of three. (3)
What to Do If You Are Uncomfortable
As the parent, if you begin to feel uncomfortable, you can teach your child about boundaries. Doing so without shaming them, however, is key.
“Even physically modest parents can destigmatize nudity by not rushing to cover up if their child inadvertently sees them,” says Huebner. “Instead, calmly say something along the lines of ‘I prefer to be alone when I am using the bathroom’ or ‘I’ll talk to you when I am dressed,’ without making a big deal out of the encounter.” (2)
You can also still teach body positivity without nudity. Simply talking positively about your body in front of your children, not being afraid to don a swimsuit at the beach, and having conversations about how they see online and in the media isn’t real will have a large impact.
“We have never been naked in front of our twins — we wear underwear. [We’re] teaching them that your body is nothing to be ashamed of but that your privacy should be respected.” says dad Adam. (2)
The Bottom Line
Whether or not you choose to be naked in front of your kids is each individual parent’s decision – that is, of course, until it’s not. If you are not comfortable right away, don’t do it, but be sure to still teach your kid’s body positivity and about all the parts of the human body.
If you decide to be naked in front of your children, go for it as long as both parties are comfortable. In this case, be sure to teach your kids about boundaries still and that just because they can be naked at home doesn’t mean they can do that elsewhere.
Lastly, showering naked or not, don’t shame any parent for their decisions. Raise your kids how you feel comfortable and let them do the same.